Brandelle Palmer started Green Wellness Life after undergoing a serious personal realization. She had already been deeply involved in the CBD industry beforehand, working 60 hours every week as project manager for a different company. However, she and her husband, Jim, started wondering. Shouldn’t they start their own brand? Their knowledge of the CBD market would give them an edge, and becoming a business owner would allow them to actually experience work-life balance and spend more time with their children.
With Green Wellness Life, Brandelle Palmer offers their numerous customers effective products and valuable information about CBD. Having taught herself the nuances, and the ins and outs, of CBD, she has dedicated her time to teaching others about its wellness benefits.
In terms of products, Brandelle Palmer has made it a point only to offer the best CBD products on their platform. She ensures this by testing out every product before putting them on the market. Through this process, she has enabled only the truly excellent products to enter the marketplace. Among these products are made by popular brands, including Charlotte’s Web, Endoca, and Medterra, among others.
This doesn’t mean that Brandelle Palmer only offers a handful of products at Green Wellness Life. The company actually carries so many products that you’ll need the company’s special “product finder tool” to help you get the product you want, especially if you’re new to CBD.
Check out more interviews with tireless entrepreneurs here.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Brandelle Palmer: Sure thing! I sort of fell into eCommerce, actually. My husband and I were both busy professionals working in manufacturing — he was an Automotive Engineer and I was a Program Manager for an aerospace company. He took a couple years off so that I could help my employer start a new facility out of state and we figured out what “other” families did that didn’t have to draw straws to see who would handle an appt or stay home with a kiddo. That focus and time was pretty great, so when he went back to work, I left my position in search of something that would be more flexible. I answered an ad for a part time Project Manager for a company that manufactured hemp and ran 3 websites selling their products. I thought it would be a fun summer gig and then I’d move on to a “real” job. But, I fell in love with hemp and loved the reach that e-commerce provided, so I stuck for 3 years. It was actually that company that encouraged me to start my own eCommerce business.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Brandelle Palmer: It was more of an aha “shove.” I am not a natural entrepreneur. I didn’t have that burning desire to be my own boss or have an unlimited earning potential. Flexible scheduling was absolutely appealing, but perhaps not worth the risk. I saw a real need, though, to get information and product out on the market to people like myself. Moms who were searching for more natural alternatives for their families. When I looked at the competition in the hemp and CBD space, they were mostly focused on a hip young audience that was into marijuana. That’s not me — I wanted to work with those moms. And there were not a lot of options out there 5 years ago. That, combined the data I was finding on projected earnings in the CBD market, were the push I needed to put a plan together.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Brandelle Palmer: Oh my goodness. Definitely. When I started the site in 2005, it was very difficult to get and keep a merchant account. We didn’t have stateside options for credit card processing because the CBD and hemp space were viewed as high risk markets. We had to use a UK based processor. That resulted in many, many declines. The UK based transactions even led to several customers having their cards shut down as “potentially fraudulent.” Cash flow is so critical when you start a business — having an inability to take payment like any other small business was a huge hurdle. I don’t know that I ever considered closing the doors, but I was concerned that this wouldn’t end up being a long-term endeavor. 5 years later, though, here we are. It seems like everything I’ve been close to calling it quits, that’s just the time that I get an amazing customer testimonial telling me that our products have changed their lives. That’s the motivation we need to keep moving.
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Brandelle Palmer: We are certainly in interesting times! We’ve (thankfully) not taken a hard hit due to Covid. We did close our retail store for a period of several months, but, our online presence has always been the bulk of what we do and it’s carried us through. Our products are becoming more mainstream and competition has exploded. It’s sometimes hard to know where we fit. Some days, we don’t feel up to taking on the major players in the industry, but, as a small business, we know that we need to keep moving forward — for our families, our customers and our community.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that? Just one?
Brandelle Palmer: Let’s see — there was the credit card charge that I entered incorrectly, overcharging the customer by $1,000. (Lesson — DON’T PROCESS IMPORTANT THINGS MANUALLY). Or the time I spent an hour tracking down a UPS shipment with USPS. Or the time that I ordered 12 units of a new product to try, but accidentally ordered 12 cases of that product. Oops! Thank goodness they sold! (Buy one, get one half off, anyone??) If you look hard enough, you’ll find both lessons and humor in everything!
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Brandelle Palmer: Make sure you’re starting with a flexible platform that has built in reporting capabilities so that you can always track your performance. We use Woo Commerce and have added a number of platforms so that you can get really granular data. Make sure that changes down the road (and there will be LOTS of them) are data driven. Additionally, make sure that you’re implementing multiple points of communication for your customer — social media, email marketing, SMS texting — right out of the gate. Trust me — you’ll want them. A program like Zapier can tie things together if the plug-ins aren’t standard. We like Klaviyo for email marketing and communication automations, but it took navigating 4 or 5 other companies before we found that fit.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
Brandelle Palmer: Definitely. Give customers a strong sense of security. That means utilizing a secured site that moves quickly. Make sure your sales process is streamlined and that there are not multiple (clunky) barriers to completing the sale. And then incentivize them, in as organic a fashion as possible, to come back. Reward them for their loyalty with better pricing, a library of research — any type of “extra” that is relevant to your industry. Everyone loves a perk.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Brandelle Palmer: I think that taking care of people has to come first and foremost. Look at every aspect of your business through the eyes of a customer. If you wouldn’t be happy with it from the customer’s seat, change it. Go above and beyond — even when you don’t feel like it. That will not only assure you of that customer retention, it will get them to tell their friends and neighbors about the great experience that they had. Hopefully, they tell LOTS of friends and neighbors — and maybe even the guy at work, too! 😊
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
Building any business is not a 9–5. If you’re ready to be successful and launch something new, recognize that it will be work. Even if you love it — perhaps especially if you love it, because you will care that much more. Commit to the stress, the work, and the idea. And make it happen!
2. Know Your Audience
There is no “one size fits all” in eCommerce. When you built that website, you’re going for a specific look and feel that will appeal to your audience. Know who that is and ensure that the site experience is for that group. I knew that I wanted to sell CBD to women aged 35–65 that love their families and their pets. My site was built to that, making it less appealing to the 25 year old male looking for an e-liquid, but that loss is ok with me. It’s far more critical to stay true to my core audience, than gain that one time sale.
3. Serve That Audience
Once you know who your people are, make sure and take care of them. Provide unparalleled service. I mean it — unparalleled. Take care of people in the way that you always wished people would take care of you. Go above and beyond and ask them (nicely) to tell their friends!
4. Own Your Capabilities
You’re great at some things, I’m sure — but not at everything! I know my products and I know customer service. I don’t know much about graphic design, social media management, or building a website from scratch. That’s why I have a team. You’ll need a team, too. Whether that’s an outsourced project or a full time hire, ensure that you’re building a team of people that can own those capabilities outside of your wheelhouse.
5. Data, Data, Data
A new business has to be flexible and open to change. It’s important to make sure that those changes are data driven. Don’t spin 180 degrees on a “hunch” or a single customer complaint. Make sure that you have information on the reality of a situation, then absolutely be ready to change with your market and your customers. Your business is worth it!
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Brandelle Palmer: Please follow us on social media or sign up online for our weekly blogs — we’d love to chat with you!
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!